All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Sex only in bed at bedtime please - we're British and have babies!

A story in the Daily Mail yesterday warned of the "dangers of co-sleeping".  Not the usual SIDS or overlaying though, instead this covered no sex, marriage failure and a clingy child - apparently all very real dangers of co-sleeping we should all be aware of.
" was a glorious day when, at three months, she moved to a cot in her own room." "Everything improved, especially my marriage — the baby’s beady-eyed presence in our bedroom turned out to be the ultimate passion-killer for me."
"A nationwide survey of 3,000 adults suggests that though 40 per cent of parents allow their young children to share the marital bed, at least every other night they aren’t too happy about it."
This is of course followed by the obligatory professor of sleep, warning never to start co-sleeping! (despite the fact it is shown to increase breastfeeding rates and improve quality of sleep, leaving mothers feeling better rested) If it's too late, use star charts to bribe the child into their own room (and those are his words).

I'm a bit unsure where the three month thing comes from, the SIDS guidance is baby should be near you until six months when risks reduce?

It was just this sort of thinking that left me adamantly refusing to co-sleep with my first - she barely slept and I was a walking zombie; despite following every "rule", resisting all "sleep props", following the "napping laws" eg dark room, set times etc - none of it worked and nor did she develop "healthy habits".

I've had a Google but can't turn up this survey (if you find it do let me know) as I wonder who were the 3000 mums surveyed?  Did these mums choose to co-sleep, or did they end up doing so because their child was such a bad sleeper it was a last resort?  How were the infants fed?  Were the group educated about normal expectations? Was this group compared to a survey of non co-sleepers to see if they reported higher rates of relationship satisfaction and indeed more sex?  Several studies suggest relationship satisfaction levels for men drop in the first twelve months postpartum - heck babies are blinking tiring, all consuming beings for a while, regardless of where they sleep!

The mums who have shared as a last resort may feel dissatisfaction because modern parenting books often tell them the norm is their child should be sole sleeping for twelve hours at six months (based on no evidence whatsoever).  They may feel resentful their child isn't conforming or blame themselves - had they only not given in the child would now be sleeping as expected, the old "rod for your own back".

Why can't families find something that works for them and meets the needs of everyone?

Families are now more insular then ever before and instead of lots of help from cousins/aunts and siblings, most parenting falls squarely on the shoulder of the parents.  In addition people often relocate away from family and then throw working into this mix - life can be a chore of childcare runs, work and washing/cooking/cleaning! 

Dad or partner may not be home until 7/8 pm, if the commute is long sometimes even later - putting a lot of  pressure on some mums, and indeed the family unit.  But why always the assumption someone's needs have to go unmet?  What works varies family to family and some even have a mix! Co-sleeping together some nights, with dad hitting the spare bed when he needs and ditto mum doing the same - there are no rules...If co-sleeping maximises sleep for everyone and stops (usually) mum having to traipse around the house to other rooms at all hours - leaving her better rested to cope with everything else, is this really likely to be a marriage breaker? 

Some parents have their toddlers awake until they go to bed, then all head off to the family bed together; others put the child into a bed or a cot until they wake during the night, and then bring them into the family bed - why has everything got to be all or nothing? Parents who feel forced into having children around all evening because they expect them to be asleep, or because they are tired out and need a break - are likely to feel entirely different come bedtime than those who have chosen to co-sleep and have other strategies in place for me/couple time.

Don't forget clinginess!

Something also apparently, inevitably caused by co-sleeping.  Firstly did I say how much I dislike this word?  Why must we always use negative terms to describe childhood behaviour society considers less desirable? 

Is it really so weird that a child needs its mother?  If some have a more intense need, why is that automatically deemed to be a problem?  What about the reasons why a child may have a stronger need or heck what if it's just the personality of the child?

The Daily Mail article is perhaps quite telling:
Perhaps more surprisingly, the practice didn’t seem to make children happier: most parents felt it made them clingy.
Sally and her husband Jim (who initially seemed happy with the idea) invested in a kingsize bed all three of them could all share. But Sally admits the effect on her marriage were anything but positive.
‘He (her son) was so cuddly,’ says Sally.'  I was working so hard during the day that I felt I didn’t see enough of him'.
'Jim and I used to have rows about it,’ she says.
The result was predictable: Jim and Sally divorced after he found himself a new woman. And Sally is now finding it hard to persuade eight-year-old Tom that he might prefer to sleep by himself".
It's interesting the parents surveyed felt co-sleeping made the child clingier. I wonder how you quantify what has caused "clinginess" in your child? Did they start co-sleeping because the child was clingy or did they choose to co-sleep from the start, in which case how do they know how clingy their child would or wouldn't have been had they slept alone?

Clearly the scenario above is a situation in which at least one person's needs were not being met.  The husband voiced that despite being initially for the idea, he began to feel left out and also that he did not see enough of her.  The mum admits she was working hard and long hours with an au-pair and so naturally felt if they didn't co-sleep she would hardly see her child.

This is about far more than the family bed, though this may have ultimately been the "final straw" that brought things to a head sooner. It's about communication (or lack of) and despite the husband stating his dissatisfaction, nothing changed to improve things. 

Perhaps if they had communicated more effectively, between them they could have negotiated some time together - maybe by both finishing work earlier on a particular day or getting childcare to have time out together? (they had a live in au-pair after all) devising a routine to get baby settled earlier and give some time in the evening - whatever.

Potentially there could have been far more quality time, how much did he see of his wife whilst she was asleep next to him? Clearly in addition the work/home balance was severely out of whack, and this is all down to a shared sleep space?!

Let's also not forget that whilst the lives of adults have changed, so have the lives of children.  Gone are the days of hanging on mother's apron strings until school or short spells at playgroup began; instead childcare away from the family often begins young as a requirement for work, for some that's almost full time office hours or longer.

While this may be an essential part of modern life for many - what about the infant's need to spend time with his mum (just like the husband has that need) do we expect them not to have that?  If mum feels like she's not spending enough time with her child, why would we not expect the child to feel the same?  Yet if an infant tries to demonstrate this need, they are labelled clingy. In contrast we call this demand from an adult vital to maintaining a healthy relationship.

What the mainstream media also always seem to forget, is those people who have found some sort of co-sleeping that works for them and who actively choose to co-sleep, why don't we ever hear about them?

Are the British really so boring that sex can only happen at bedtime in a bed?

With my first child (non co-sleeper) I was so wiped out that any time I got into a bed, my only focus was sleep!

I asked parents on Facebook whether they agreed co-sleeping had caused sex or their relationship to suffer.  Here are some of the replies:
Hmm... well I co-slept with all of them... including twins and... let's put it this way... I have five children!The result was predictable: Jim and Sally divorced after he found himself a new woman. And Sally is now finding it hard to persuade eight-year-old Tom that he might prefer to sleep by himself".
I think it has spiced up our sex life. We have to be more creative. Like I saw on a t-shirt once, "Co-sleepers get dirty... in the garden." Lol

I always wonder do these people not have sofas? or, a la postman always rings twice, kitchen tables? ;-D

Do these people not have any imagination? DH and I have not slept in the same bed for the last 13 years. He got kicked out after baby no 4, because he snores and no one got any sleep. We have managed another five babies since then, so def hasn't caused us any issues ;-)
Being too tired to do the deed with a small person to take care of is a FAR bigger reason for less frequent nooky than co-sleeping could ever be. If you both WANT to get amorous, you will find a location to do it. If one of you doesn't, you will find an excuse - and 'the bed is occupied' is an excuse - not a reason!
You can read the full replies here - hardly the picture we so often hear about.

Many parents find the transition to sole sleeper an easy one - infants often want their own space as it starts to get more cramped, and choose to head off to their own room if they feel there isn't an immense pressure to do so. The older the child is, the less intense the mummy need becomes and the shift is very often easier than with a tiny baby. Some parents are happy for the child to leave the bed when they choose, others give a gentle helping hand:

My son co-slept until he was around 3 1/2.  At 2 he helped us decorate his bedroom, picked the covers, curtains and nightlight as we felt him having input would result in somewhere he felt happy.  At first he showed little interest once the decorating novelty had worn off, but we noticed as he's got older he has started going and playing in "his" bedroom for longer periods of time and choosing to nap there.  Then he progressed to going to sleep there and coming in with us when he woke, until finally declaring he was going to sleep all night in his bed at around 31/2 which he did.  He will happily tell us he's tired and wants to go to bed and seems to have a really healthy relationship with sleep.  (summarised from an email received)
Our son was 2.5 years old when he started sleeping in his own bed. My daughter was 9 weeks old at the time and we were sleeping well together, but we went for a sleepover at my Sisters and he slept on a blowup bed in his cousins room. I decided I would try him in his bed the following night, just to see how we'd get on. He thought it was brilliant because he was being a 'big boy' like his cousin. We haven't looked back since. He still sometimes wakes in the early hours around 5am and comes and joins us for an extra hour or two, but that's fine by me :)
When my boy was eighteen months we moved house and I was seven months pregnant so we introduced him to his toddler bed. We pushed it really as he probably would have liked to stay with us a bit longer but he did get quickly used to going to sleep in his bed and being put back there if he woke during the night
Read more here:

The fact that co-sleeping results in clingy children and broken marriages is nothing more than a myth.  Sure some co-sleeping families will divorce, just as cot sharing families do - but it's about a whole lot more than a family bed.


  1. Ugh, why don't the just smear themselves with grease and the little limpets will never be able to catch them for any of their precious time.

    If a marriage is so brittle that sex anywhere other than in the bed at bedtime is a deal breaker, it was clearly always going to break at some point.

  2. My hubby had to go away for the night last night...I'm afraid I was a clingy mother and crept in with my youngest. Oh dear, have I made a rod for my own back by co-sleeping with my OH all these years?

  3. Society describes children as 'clingy' because we (post modern society) are no longer family based. A child is an accessory, something that allows an adult to be more fullfilled by becoming the mother or father they always wanted to be. The purpose of the family unit (when there is one) isn't to provide a good basis for raising kids, it's to make the grown-ups 'happy', thus things like no fault divorces, because Heaven forbit an adult not be HAPPY! So kids that need more attention then the parent deems appropriate are 'overly clingly' or 'needy'.
    My kids get clingy on occassion, the thought process goes like this 'oh, Thomas is being extra clingy today, he must not be feeling well, come here honey, momma will cuddle with you'. For the 'my kid is a fashion accessory' moms I know it's more like 'this kid won't leave me alone! I'm tired of it, where's my babysitter/spouse/daycare I'm going out!'.

  4. I didn't post on FB as I didn't want hordes of people who know me reading it...

    But my experience so far is that my 1st coslept, then was edged into her (pre-existing) bedside cot when she got too active & less snuggly, around 8-10 months. A day or 2 after her 1st birthday I put the mattress down and the cotside up - putting her into her own separate bed - after she refused her bedtime feed and she settled just fine.

    I later realised why she went off my milk (cosleeping being such a passion-killer, I was pregnant). And despite our efforts to prepare her nursery etc in advance, she moved into her own room at 19 months. At her grandparents' house. The day her sister was born.

    The result is a toddler who goes to bed nicely (well, once persuaded to stop playing and go upstairs) and sleeps better than most.

    No 2 is much 'clingier' and is still well ensconced next to Mummy at one. Same parents, same decision before her birth to cosleep.

    Their Daddy would quite like her to move out because he's suffering joint pain as a result of keeping on the far side of our (superking) bed after reading that men aren't really safe sleeping next to babies. And he's still getting our toddler up on his own so I can stay with the baby who tends to sleep later. But not if it makes her unhappy, natch.

    I can't help wondering if Sally (assuming DM didn't invent her) isn't better off without Jim? And children cosleeping late with single mothers is something I've heard of a lot (eg. Gina Ford's mother)...

    1. It really does depend on the infant, with our first son.. we coslept right up until the birth of our daughter, I came home with DD 2 days before DS 2nd birthday. That first night as I carried DD upstairs in her moses basket with DS holding my other hand, he said ''shhh baby sleeping.. I go to bed?'' (at this point he had his own room but would never sleep in it, we also still had the cot in our bedroom. )He pointed to the cot, I lifted him in.. he pulled his covers up and said goodnight.

      I didnt expect this to last more than half an hour.. but he slept right through to morning, and the following week wanted to be in his own room.

      DD did not seem to like co sleeping, and by 6 months was moved into her own room.. where she would cry if you left the door open, and very much made it clear that she wanted you to close the door and let her sleep.

      Third child was a mixture.. he sometimes wanted to be in with us, and sometimes wanted his own bed. He would however kick off his covers during the night, and would wake because he was cold, and come into our bed to warm up.

  5. Maddie, love your reply! And yes, Gina Ford slept with her mother til she was 12.

    I wonder how on earth they manage in other countries where co-sleeping is the norm? Oh wait I forget, no DM in those countries, ergo not a problem.

  6. If co-sleeping kills sex-lives then where did I get these four non-clingy kids from?

  7. Very well said! If you want to make sure you get some time together, then it can happen. Yes, there will be times when you're too tired or touched-out, but that's not from co-sleeping. I'd be much more tired if I didn't co-sleep! And as you mentioned, communication is key!

  8. We have a perfect sex life, we have 3 small kids under the age of 7. Each had their turn to sleep in our bed for first 2 years of their life and now sleep in their own beds through the night. They are very secure and happy children. We live with no regrets. Sex life can be spiced up by using anything other than the bed or bedroom for that matter...

  9. with my first child, i was the same as Analytical armadillo and was adamant i wouldn't co sleep, and spent 2 years in a sleep deprived daze. second time round i wasn't going to go through that again so hubby and i decided to cosleep with baby. i was so much more rested. Baby no. 2 is a brilliant sleeper and transfered easily into his own room about 2 yrs of age, he is in a double bed so if he wakes in the night i go in and sleep there. I'm sure hubby and i had a better 'relationship' while cosleeping with baby 2 than while i was dragging myself out of bed every 2 hours with baby 1.

  10. We co sleep through necessity as my LO is that clingy baby who doesn't like to sleep alone. I can see why though its a long dark time for a little child and if she needs reassurance we will be there for as long as possible. OH was in the spare room but we have now put both beds together (they JUST fit) and so we have the best of both worlds, he has a seperate sleeping space and we roll across to snuggle if we need to. Sex has always happened elsewhere mainly anyway, I need my sleep!

  11. Jespren, you said it so well. Children are not seen as part of society, but as an 'inconvenience' to be 'managed' as easily as possible so that we can all go on with 'normal life.

    Armadillo, yes absolutely: it doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation, and people blank themselves off from the spectrum of possibilities with either/or thinking - so limiting - brought about by our society's obsession with getting children to be independent as early as possible. In my experience co sleeping is only a problem for the couple if one of the parents is emphatically against it, as I experienced in my case, and have heard from a few other mothers. I think it did drive a wedge between us, because unfort my (now ex) partner was indeed very 'British' and couldn't get past the belief that 'the marital bed must belong to the couple only, and sex only happens here!' He couldn't be creative about it. His loss.

    I know plenty of other families for whom it works, and the romance has not suffered any more than it does anyway as a result of early years parenting. My child still sleeps with me at three and a half and I love our cuddles, and the fact that he is so secure. In fact it is often commented on how secure and confident he is, and I think a lot of that is down to having co slept and not 'sleep trained', and the fact he has had so many cuddles, not having to rely on 'props' like dummies, but having the real thing, ie human contact.

  12. We didn't co sleep with DD1 (didn't quite bf either, though she had bottles of ebm) but she was in our room til 7mths. DD2 is ebf and we have a cot with the side off which shE mostly goes into. We've not had much sex but LO is only 4 mths and I don't think that's because we co sleep, more because I'm tired! Co sleeping is making it bearable second time around, I'd be far more tired if DD wasn't at arm's reach. DD1 does sometimes come into our bed but it's discouraged as there's no room, (we only have a double) we just have cuddles together every morning.

  13. To get in the mood, the couple had to whet their appetites by sampling Swedish cuisine. But the gastronomic delights of pickled fish and vegetables failed to hit any spot, least of all a G-spot.

  14. I didn't co-sleep with DD1, except in hospital where I was being watched, because I was so scared I would squish her. I was way more chilled and confident with DD2. I co-slept with her on and off as needed until she was about 8 months. Then everything went a bit wrong and we tried her in her own room. However, since reading blogs like this one I realise she is only young and would love to have her back. OH is not so keen on the idea :-( He has found me on her cot mattress on the floor in her room a few times.......does this mean I am a clingy mum? Do you think I'll still be in her room when I'm 50? ;-) xx

  15. My first son was in his own room after 2 weeks, and sleeping through from 3 months. No sleep deprivation for us. But, no more babies with his father and we're divorced. Ladies and Gentleman of Great Britain, I say SLEEP WITH YOUR BABIES if you want to save your marriage ;-)

    Daily Fail strikes again.

  16. Maybe its just my imagination, but I seem to see people that cosleep have more children then people that don't lol.
    ~Aiyana's Momma~

  17. You know what kills your sex life and puts strain on a relationship...being exhausted through being awake many times in the night and being resentful of your partner because he doesn't get woken up umpteen times. When I was more rested through co-sleeping and not resenting him for sleeping because I was sleeping, we had more sex!

  18. We co sleep with our 4 year old and have done since he was 7 weeks. We, as adults, lav be it for ourselves. We're able to tend to his needs so much quicker and easier at night and without disturbing ourselves too much either.
    I put his covers back over him a few to mes through the night before he wakes up cold. We all get complete, full nights sleep.

    Now I'm pregnant with our second we wanted more room in bed. So a double is now alongside our king for a nine and a half foot wide bed.

    We all go to bed at random times depending on how the day's gone. Sometimes all together, sometimes one of us first, or sometimes one of us stays up later. Now he's older sometimes that's our son, winding Dow in bed with us whilst we sleep. Perhaps because of a long nap due to a car journey. We're pretty flexible.

    Oh, and to be blunt not only have we managed to conceive our second child, but we have filthy sexual encounters a few times a week!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.